India’s legendary cricketer Sachin Tendulkar was feeling grateful after Mumbai clinched their 41st Ranji trophy on Friday.

Mumbai secured 2015/16 Ranji Trophy beating Saurashtra by an innings and 21 runs in the final match at Pune.

Sachin told the Hindu, “It reminds me of the title we won against Saurashtra in 2012-13 at the Wankhede Stadium. It’s an excellent performance. Any team that gets to the final ought to have played good cricket. No team can reach the final by sheer luck. Saurashtra did play good cricket all the way.”

Sachin congratulated every player and also spoke out the turning point of the final game. Sachin said, “Overall, it’s a team effort. In the first innings, Dhawal (Kulkarni) was the key factor, with support from Ballu (Balwinder Singh Sandhu) and Shardul (Thakur). In the second innings, Shardul was superb and the others supported him. Obviously, Surya (Suryakumar Yadav), Shreyas Iyer, and Siddhesh Lad stood out in batting, and here I would like to add Ballu again. He was involved in a crucial partnership with Siddhesh (103 for the 10th wicket) and that shifted the momentum towards Mumbai.”

Tendulkar was impressed with the performance of young Mumbai pacer Shardul Thakur. Sachin said, “I have known Shardul for a long time now, for close to 10 years. I spotted the spark in him when I saw him for the first time. He was just playing junior cricket then. I would tell friends that this guy has got the potential. He has worked hard on his fitness to strengthen the muscles and body. He has the true potential to play the higher class of cricket. I am happy that he’s been able to advance in his career and win matches.

Sachin also spoke about Mumbai batsman Shreyas Iyer, who finished as leading run-scorer in the 2015/16 Ranji Trophy after scoring 1321 runs in 18 innings with the average of 73.38; Sachin said, “I have been hearing about Shreyas for two or three years or so. I have not seen him play much, but whatever I saw, I was happy to see him play the way he does. He is a player with tremendous potential and ability to hit the ball. It’s something special. That’s the way he likes to play; I don’t think he goes in with a mindset saying, ‘I am going to dominate the bowling’. He likes hitting the ball and that sort of transforms into dominating… he likes to attack the bowling.”

Sachin also spoke out about Siddhesh Lad who made a crucial 88 runs in the final. Siddhesh was in very good form in 2015/16 Ranji Trophy where he made 691 runs in 18 innings with the average of 40.64. Sachin said, “He’s batting differently because of T20, which has made all the batsmen have a different bat swing. When you have to attack, you must have ‘X’ number of strokes in your repertoire. There is not much scope for those players who don’t (have them). Obviously, T20 has helped Siddhesh. Today, I watched him on television. He was dropped, and soon he shifted gears and went into an overdrive. He played some magnificent shots. It was just a change in mindset. Yesterday, I watched him towards the close and his mindset was different. When he realised that he had no option but to smash the bowlers, he became a different batsman. Suddenly, everything looked different (in the middle). Yes, he played some very good shots. It was Siddhesh Lad batting with a changed mindset. He was looking to bat differently with established players around. The moment he realised that Ballu was at the other end, he took charge and then slowly gave enough strike to Ballu to make him feel confident and built that big partnership, which turned out to be the key partnership.”

Sachin also spoke out about the Mumbai’s depth of batting where Rohit Sharma, Ajinkya Rahane, Shreyas Iyer, Akhil Herwadkar, Suryakumar Yadav, Siddhesh Lad, Aditya Tare etc. are involved. Sachin commented, “It’s really good. Mumbai has a group of youngsters and they have to play together for a while. The performance of all the Mumbai teams speaks for itself. The players have been working hard. We have talent and the spinners are also decent. These are the spinners who have played for Mumbai. It also depends on the kind of surface they play on. Sometimes, one gets a helpful track for spinners and sometimes a track for pacers. The track in Pune was more helpful for the seamers.”

The Pune track, where the 2015/16 Ranji final was played, surprised many people but Sachin was not. He said, “I was not. I knew the kind of wicket they (Mumbai) would get when I caught up with them before their departure to Pune. I told Shardul and Dhawal that they are going to get a very good track, and that they will enjoy bowling on it. What we saw when India played Sri Lanka (T20I), that track also had decent life. There is also cross breeze at the Pune stadium, and on a wicket like that the ball tends to swing. I enjoyed what I saw (the final at Pune). It was a helpful wicket for seamers.

Sachin does not support flat pitches in first class cricket. He said, “If you are going to play a multiple-day match, then the wicket has to help the bowlers; be it for seamers or spinners. It cannot be a flat track on which anyway batters play differently in ODIs and T20. Both versions are dominated by batters. There has to be a version where the bowlers have to dominate, and someone who bats well will score runs, but it cannot be a flat track wherein the whole world is scoring 500 and 600 runs. This makes multiple-day cricket, on occasions, boring. You need more pace as far as the game is concerned; not fast bowling. It goes at a different level when you have a helpful track for bowlers.”

Sachin finally commented about Mumbai’s next programme for the next season. Sachin ended by saying , “Mumbai is looking good as a team. But this is the time to press the pedal hard and prepare them better for the next season. When things are going well, that’s the time to work harder and execute all the plans. The vision has to be there.”


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